Harper apologizes to Arar--and his family

I just finished watching Harper on CBC TV. Much as I am opposed to many of his policies I must admit that I thought he did an excellent job. He was calm but forthright in stating his opposition to the US position and backed up what Stockwell Day had said without the slightest hesitation. He defended Day's actions as an attempt to right a wrong against a Canadian citizen, a position that is eminently reasonable.

Harper apologizes to Arar
Last Updated: Friday, January 26, 2007 | 12:40 PM ET
CBC News
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a formal apology Friday to Maher Arar and his family for their suffering after Arar was detained in the U.S. and deported to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured for nearly a year.

Harper, who made the announcement in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa, said the apology is an acknowledgement of the role that Canada may have played in the U.S. decision to deport Arar to Syria.

"I sincerely that these words and action will help you and family begin a new chapter in your lives," he said.

The compensation package negotiated by Arar was reported to be about $12 million, $2 million of which was intended to cover Arar's legal fees.

Harper said Canada has sent letters to U.S. and Syrian governments to object to the treatment of Arar.

Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, had originally sought $37 million in compensation and an official government apology.

Arar, who now lives in Kamloops, B.C., is in Ottawa on Friday and plans to speak to the media after Harper's announcement.

In 2002, the engineer was living in Ottawa and coming back from a vacation when he was arrested during a stopover at New York's JFK Airport. U.S. authorities deported him to Syria, where he was tortured.

Ottawa set up a judicial inquiry into the case led by Justice Dennis O'Connor after Arar returned to Canada more than a year later.

More to come


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